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Cotton kills?

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Cotton kills?

Old 07-07-14, 09:40 AM
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Phantoj
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Cotton kills?

I always heard that cotton is miserable on a bike and that wicking polyester jerseys are the way to go. I've taken a few rides recently wearing a cotton T-shirt and it doesn't seem that bad at mid-upper 80's temps. Maybe if it was hotter or more humid, the cotton would end up soggy and soaked, but poly is pretty miserable in sticky heat, too.

How about you... ever try a cotton tee? Was it that bad?
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Old 07-07-14, 09:42 AM
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if you're going slow, it probably doesn't matter
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Old 07-07-14, 09:45 AM
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I wore cotton shirts and jeans on my paper route as a kid, riding a 35 lb bike with 200 rolled newspapers.

...and survived to tell the harrowing tale.






Nice story, Grampa. Now tell us about the hike to school in waist-deep snow, uphill both ways.
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Old 07-07-14, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
I always heard that cotton is miserable on a bike and that wicking polyester jerseys are the way to go. I've taken a few rides recently wearing a cotton T-shirt and it doesn't seem that bad at mid-upper 80's temps. Maybe if it was hotter or more humid, the cotton would end up soggy and soaked, but poly is pretty miserable in sticky heat, too.

How about you... ever try a cotton tee? Was it that bad?
In hot weather it's probably fine if you aren't working too hard. I wore a cotton T on hike. My back was soaking wet from the sweat and pack and when I stopped for lunch I was quite cold despite the 70+ temps. In cold weather cotton is a very bad idea. In hot weather it's mostly just uncomfortable if you are exercising. I always wear a wool base layer and have no issues with sticky polyester. It's actually quite comfortable.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:29 AM
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I only wear cotton T-shirts when riding. I'm not a fan of single purpose clothing and a bike jersey is single purpose. I walk the dog then go riding with the same Tshirt. I'm doing it for the exercise and sweating is part of the deal so I don't care that much. I realize I don't fit the cycling culture but that's ok.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by pdedes View Post
if you're going slow, it probably doesn't matter
Can you elaborate on this thought? I'm not that fast, but I can still sweat about as much as anyone, I guess.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
Can you elaborate on this thought? I'm not that fast, but I can still sweat about as much as anyone, I guess.
when I commute to meetings, I'll wear a cotton dress shirt with a cotton undershirt. typically, i'm cruising in at 15km/h. i try to minimize sweating by dialing back effort level. and i'm not interested in wicking sweat onto a dress shirt. or if i'm taking the kids to the park, picking up groceries, i'll ride easy in non-technical clothing.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:47 AM
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but on a recreational ride, a training ride, etc. purposeful clothing is more comfortable, more practical.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:54 AM
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Yeah it won't kill you. Neither will wearing burlap underwear but that doesn't mean there aren't better options out there.
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Old 07-07-14, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by therhodeo View Post
Yeah it won't kill you. Neither will wearing burlap underwear but that doesn't mean there aren't better options out there.
Yep.

Cotton is just not a good material for exercising, be it in the gym, or on a bike.
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Old 07-07-14, 11:15 AM
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I don't wear cycling specific jerseys, just some wicking sports t-shirts from Target. I sweat a lot! It doesn't matter what I am doing, when it's humid out, I have sweat rolling down my back and stinging my eyes from my forehead.

I just started wearing the sports t-shirts. They are not tight, quite loose in fact as I am very uncomfortable in tight clothing (biking shorts are not cool at all, they are very hot.) First time I wore the sports shirt I was amazed. I got home from about an hour and a half ride and my shirt was still bone dry. A regular cotton t-shirt would have been soaked and heavily hanging off my shoulders.

I have the thoughts of getting some more regular colored of these shirts for work. It is 115° and 99% humidity in the summer on the floor at work. Inside my air conditioned office it is currently 85° with 2 air conditioners going. My cotton t-shirts are soaking wet from an hour after I get into work until I am leaving. I don't mind sweating. I just hate the feeling of my shirt heavily hanging off my shoulders from the sweat.
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Old 07-07-14, 11:16 AM
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The Cotton Kills mantra comes from winter wear, and its often used by winter campers and skiers.

Imagine you are deep in the woods, lost, and exerting yourself. You sweat and instead of wicking it away, the cotton absorbs the sweat and keeps it against your skin.

Then you become exhausted, and you are cold, and you have wet cotton against your skin.

I've done much skiing both downhill and cross country in the winter, and I can confirm that cotton does not feel great as your first layer. If you sweat then the wind comes up and the temp drops it feels awful. As a second layer its ok, but can make you feel clammy in some conditions. Better no cotton in winter.
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Old 07-07-14, 11:49 AM
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I usually wear cotton when training or riding casually. I usually race in lycra. If I was made of money I'd only ride in Merino wool jerseys, however.
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Old 07-07-14, 11:54 AM
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This.

Originally Posted by JamesRL View Post
The Cotton Kills mantra comes from winter wear, and its often used by winter campers and skiers.

Imagine you are deep in the woods, lost, and exerting yourself. You sweat and instead of wicking it away, the cotton absorbs the sweat and keeps it against your skin.

Then you become exhausted, and you are cold, and you have wet cotton against your skin.

I've done much skiing both downhill and cross country in the winter, and I can confirm that cotton does not feel great as your first layer. If you sweat then the wind comes up and the temp drops it feels awful. As a second layer its ok, but can make you feel clammy in some conditions. Better no cotton in winter.
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Old 07-07-14, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by nuke_diver View Post
I only wear cotton T-shirts when riding. I'm not a fan of single purpose clothing and a bike jersey is single purpose. I walk the dog then go riding with the same Tshirt. I'm doing it for the exercise and sweating is part of the deal so I don't care that much. I realize I don't fit the cycling culture but that's ok.
Nothing stopping you from walking the dog in full kit.
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Old 07-07-14, 12:48 PM
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I wear a cotton polyester blend T-shirt in Safety Green, and it feels the same as my 100% polyester shirt in Construction Orange.

In cold weather, I wear fleece...
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Old 07-07-14, 12:50 PM
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It's not a big deal in warm temps, certainly not upper 80's. You'll probably find a quality jersey to be more comfortable and the pockets in the back are handy.

I'd strongly recommend against cotton for cold weather riding. That's a great way to get hypothermia. Been there. Done that.
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Old 07-07-14, 01:23 PM
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Cotton, in the humid FL summer, equals a soaking rag of misery.
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Old 07-07-14, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bikecrate View Post
Cotton, in the humid FL summer, equals a soaking rag of misery.
And sore nipples.
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